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Something good's cooking

DALLAS -- Classroom No. 9 at LaCreole Middle School is filling with heavenly aromas as students in the after-school cooking club prepare a holiday feast.

LaCreole Middle School students Kyra Church, Karlee Miller, Brianne Halin and Tianna Moniz, from left, prepare a batch of pumpkin cupcakes during an afterschool cooking club session Nov. 27. The cupcakes were part of a holiday feast that the 30-student class prepared to share at the end of the session.

Photo by Pete Strong

LaCreole Middle School students Kyra Church, Karlee Miller, Brianne Halin and Tianna Moniz, from left, prepare a batch of pumpkin cupcakes during an afterschool cooking club session Nov. 27. The cupcakes were part of a holiday feast that the 30-student class prepared to share at the end of the session.

December 05, 2012

DALLAS -- Classroom No. 9 at LaCreole Middle School is filling with heavenly aromas as students in the after-school cooking club prepare a holiday feast.

Sweet potato casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed ranch vegetables, stuffing, cheddar-sage biscuits, cheese balls and, for dessert, pumpkin cupcakes, are being prepared under the direction of LaCreole teachers Kimberly Noack, Erin Rogers and Shayla Ordonez.

"It smells good in here today," Noack said as the scents of baking cupcakes, biscuits and sweet potatoes mingle with cooking vegetables to hint at what will be served at the end of the club's session on Nov. 27.

The club started at the beginning of this school year and is so popular, two sessions -- each with 30 students -- had to be scheduled. The club meets every other week to teach students basic cooking skills and new recipes. Students pay $10 per term to help pay for supplies and ingredients.

With most electives cut at LaCreole due to budget reductions, the club offers an opportunity for an inexpensive extracurricular activity.

"I've always been interested in cooking," said Karlee Miller, a sixth-grader. "When I heard about this, I really wanted to do it."

Noack said the response to the class -- more than 100 students attended an interest meeting -- has been strong enough for teachers to consider continuing it the second half of the year.

Logan Dorian cuts produce for "skillet ranch vegetables" under the watchful eye of teacher Kimberly Noack.

Photo by Pete Strong

Logan Dorian cuts produce for "skillet ranch vegetables" under the watchful eye of teacher Kimberly Noack.

The club typically meets for an hour, a fairly short time, but teachers do try to emphasize healthy cooking choices as much as possible.

Skill levels vary in the club, with some students having no experience cooking before this year, while others, like seventh-grader Gavin Davis, have plenty of hours logged in the kitchen.

"I like cooking," Davis said. "I've cooked with my mom and she showed me a lot."

Davis and his partners, Angel De Los Santos and Kyle Diehm, are cruising through their stuffing recipe, even if chopping onions wasn't pleasant.

"My eyes are burning," said a boy from a group working at the stove across from them.

Soon, though, the club members will reap the rewards of their toil -- and watery eyes -- when at the end of the session they share what each group prepared.

Club members say they enjoy learning new skills and cooking with their friends.

"The most fun part is probably meeting new people and experimenting with new things that you think you can't do and find out you can," said seventh-grader Logan Dorian.

Noack said she's been pleased to see a few members gain the confidence to try cooking on their own.

"They've been taking the things they learn here and trying them at home," she said. "They are very excited about what they are learning."

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